Aide relishing tussle with young Samurais

Aide Iskandar's Singapore Under-23 side will fine-tune their preparations for the upcoming SEA Games by tackling Japan Under-22 in an international friendly match at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday.

Sharpening the Singapore Under-23 side’s tactical acumen will be the main agenda for head coach Aide Iskandar as they face a stiff test of their credentials when they go head to head with the Japan Under-22 outfit in an international friendly clash on Saturday.

Fresh from their recent Turkey training stint, the Young Lions had some exposure against Asian age-group sides as they held Uzbekistan Under-21 to a 1-1 draw and lost 0-3 to Yemen Under-22.

The former national defender wants his charges to build on their recent Asian lessons where they were exposed to a higher tempo and standard of play against continental opponents.

“Against Yemen (Under-22) and Uzbekistan (Under-21), both teams played very high intensity games,” he said at the pre-match press conference at M Hotel on Friday.

“It was good for us to compete against this type of playing style with quality Asian countries.”

With one of the best Asian youth national teams in town, Aide is urging his men to make the best use of their sparring session with the Young Samurais.

“It is not every week we get to face a quality team like Japan, who will provide a stern test for our SEA Games preparations,” he continued.

“Japanese players play with plenty of mobility in their game, so we will need to make sure we are able to compete and match them as much as possible.”

While this game serves as the hosts’ continued preparations for the Southeast Asian Games football tournament on home soil in June, the visitors are using it for acclimatisation purposes ahead of the pre-Olympic Asian qualifying in Malaysia next month.

“We are honoured to be against a side that has a longer preparation period than us,” said Japan Under-22 head coach Makoto Teguramori.

“We are only about 70 per cent complete in our preparatory work, so this match will provide a test on what we can do and which areas we need to improve on.”

The Young Samurais had three training sessions since their arrival on Thursday, including a double session on the eve of the match.

Looking focused in their drills, they are looking to regain some respect back for Japanese football after the recent lows following the senior national team’s poor finals showings in the World Cup and Asian Cup.

The former Vegalta Sendai head coach could not stress enough the importance of regaining confidence in the sport beginning with the Singapore tour.

“Tomorrow is a very important match to show Japanese football ability and capability to the world after the failure of the recent Asian Cup,” he added.

Looking beyond this game, Aide insists the door is not closed for those who are not involved in the friendly as there are enough domestic and international opportunities to impress in the months leading up to June.

“There are still a number of players from other clubs I am keeping an eye on,” he concluded.

“Some can also get their way into reckoning with some good performances for (Richard Bok’s) Under-22 side in their Asian qualifiers (in China in March).”

Photo courtesy of Football Association of Singapore (FAS)